Top 5 Guide stories of 2013

By Jessi Stone Guide editor | Jan 01, 2014
Photo by: John Highsmith photo HART will begin construction on a new theater in March.

#1. Ron Rash finds literary and film success

In February, local author Ron Rash took the time to answer some questions for The Guide about his latest collection of short stories, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” Rash has had great success writing about Appalachia while also teaching Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University. To add to his numerous awards, he was honored with the 2013 Thomas Wolfe Prize in October from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He is such an asset to this region and the literary world yet remains unbelievably humble about his writing and his accomplishments. His gripping novel “Serena,” set in 1929 Waynesville, was made into a major motion picture to be released in 2014. The film stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, which has created a highly anticipated released.

While “Serena” was filmed in Czech Republic, Rash’s novel, “The World Made Straight,” was mostly filmed in Buncombe and Madison counties. The film will star Haley Joel Osment and Noah Wyle.

If you have not read Rash’s short stories or novels, I highly recommend you do/ At least pick up “Serena” before the movie comes out — it’s a quick read. We wish Rash all the success in the future and we’re proud to have him as part of our community.


#2. Balsam Range takes ‘Album of the Year’

Haywood County's own bluegrass-and-more band Balsam Range made us proud again in September when they brought home the International Bluegrass Music Association's Album of the Year award from Raleigh.

"Papertown," Balsam Range's much-heralded album featuring the song of the same name written by Tuscola graduate and Nashville songwriter Milan Miller, won out over the Gibson Brothers' "They Called it Music"; "The Old School" by Peter Rowan; The SteelDrivers' "Hammer Down"; and "Dear Sister" by Claire Lynch. Those are some big bluegrass names, and to come out on top is a testament to how hard this band works and how much it has paid off.

They recently kicked off the fourth annual Winter Concert Series at Canton’s historic Colonial Theater. Balsam Range will perform once a month with special guests, including Jeff Little Trio, John Driskell Hopkins from Zac Brown Band,

The Sweet Lowdown, Jeff Collins, Tony Creasman, David Johnson, Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle and Jerry Salley.

While their reach is far, Balsam Range always stays loyal to their home base here in Haywood County. When they succeed, we all succeed. We hope 2014 brings them more success.

#3. HART breaks ground on new theater

Haywood Arts Regional Theater is a great asset to this community and for our tourism industry. The staff and casts never fail to bring a great lineup of live theater to our community.

HART was able to bring more excitement this year as it met its fundraising goal of $650,000 to break ground on a new theater facility in September. Daniel and Belle Fangmeyer contributed $200,000 to the project, which pushed them over their goal. Construction for the $1 million facility is slated to begin in March.

The new theater will include a bistro/café and a 150-seat flexible theater space, which can be reconfigured in many ways including dinner theater and cabaret. The facility will allow HART to double its performance schedule and become an area attraction, which should play a major role in the economic development of the region.

HART’s Theater currently cannot run full time because of the scheduling of the single theater space HART owns. This means that HART is closed nearly half of the 26-week tourist season. I look forward to what the future holds for HART in 2014.


#4. Brown's 'Bigfoot War' hits big screen

Eric S. Brown of Canton has taken his love for science fiction and horror and turned it into a successful writing career. We don’t know how he has time to complete all the projects he’s working on, but somehow he does and still writes a monthly comic book column for The Guide. He has written more than 40 books, writes for Unstoppable Comics’ The Storm Chasers series, and is now preparing for his first movie release. His “Bigfoot War” series has been so successful that Origin Releasing purchased the film right to the book, which is in production right now. The book is about a boy who grew up in a small town in North Carolina. Sasquatch kills his parents and eventually he returns as an adult to seek his revenge.

It only takes a few minutes of conversation with Brown to see how passionate he is about his work but also thankful for the success he has had within the inner circle of Sci-Fi. “Bigfoot Wars” will hit the big screen some time in 2014. While Bigfoot may not be your forte, I highly recommend picking up a copy on

I see a “Bigfoot Wars” release party in the future for 2014. With a new agent helping him steer his career, I also predict Brown will have more “Big” news for us in the coming year.


#5. Jane Alexander releases ‘The View From Tom’s Stand’

Jane Alexander lives atop Cataloochee in a beautifully built cabin that she and her late husband Tom put together by hand. Her home is full of character and good stories. This year, she released many of those stories in her book, “The View From Tom’s Stand.”

Jane and Tom were both successful journalists for Life magazine in New York and Washington, D.C., before returning to Tom’s family home in Cataloochee to build a new kind of life. And what a life it was. In the book, Jane tells about their adventures during their 44 years of marriage, including the five summers they spent in Cataloochee while constructing the cabin.

The 310-page paperback book contains almost 400 black and white photos that take you back in time with the Alexander family. It also contains some of Tom’s prize-winning articles as well as stories from Tom Alexander Sr., Alice Alexander Aumen. This book is a great addition to the history of Cataloochee and the Alexander family. The short stories will have you laughing and crying in the same breath.

To purchase the book, visit


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